Sunday, September 21, 2014

I Don't

The question stared me down from the page. I glared at it, shrouded in all it's innocence and purity.

When do you most feel God's pleasure?

The past couple of weeks have been tough for me. I feel like I've gotten very good at doing things wrong, and have little sense or wisdom for doing things right. Other people sometimes have a way of crushing one's spirit, even when they don't really mean to. And right now, unbeknowst to her, Jennie Allen is totally crushing my spirit. How could she possibly know that the bible study she wrote would send me into such a tailspin on a bright and sunny Sunday morning? She writes and teaches thousands of women, guiding them in their walk with Christ, urging them through tough homework assignments to look deeper into their souls, figure out who they are and what they stand for.

I stared at that miserable question again. Glared at it again. Challenged it in my mind. Hows this for an answer, Jennie Allen?

I. Don't.

In the preceding pages--"projects", she calls them--we were asked to write down five highlights from  certain stages of life when we felt pleasure in what we were doing. This was the beginning of the end for me, since I couldn't think of any highlights from the ages of 13-24, meaning there was nothing specific that I did for fun that I felt good about. And the earlier years of my life I could only come up with "horseback riding" as a highlight, because I love horses. So when it came to answering the questions in Project 3, I gathered my family around.

"What do you think I do well?" I asked them.

Cleaning! my sweet child exclaimed.

And it became obvious to me that they have no idea what I do well, either.

Maybe "doing well" has more than one definition.

And when Project 4 rolled around, asking me to look back at my five highlights, which I don't have, and then choose one word about why each moment was satisfying to me and chart it on a line, and then reflect and try to narrow down five strengths most evident in my life (you will have a bunch, no doubt, she writes, but try to narrow down to your top five), well, I just got angry and defiant and disappointed. Five strengths? I finally wrote "creating beauty in my home" because I like to decorate, but even that seems kind of lame. It's not like I'm super-intuitive at interior design, I just know what I like and I enjoy it.

God's pleasure. In my life. That's a very difficult thing to define, isn't it?

Or maybe it's just me.

But despite the not knowing and the angst that this causes, I feel a tug at my heart, a desire for more. Not the kind of "more" that we get when we go to TJ Maxx and buy eight things we never needed or really wanted to begin with, but a restless feeling. A sense that the life of "more" actually means a life entirely focused on God, not myself and my lack of superlatives.(I always wanted to win a superlative in high school, but alas, my "best smile" and "funniest personality" and "best looking" never got noticed by the others.)

If you feel like I do--meaning, you feel like you, too, are turning out a less-than-shiny and seemingly lackluster resume--I have some words of encouragement for you:

Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
{1 corinthians 10:31}

Glory in the picking up of scattering of shoes, and being thankful for the life that fills them.

Glory in the baking of a healthy zucchini lasagna that no one will eat, and being thankful that there is food on the table.

Glory in going to work and then to Kroger, and doing it all over again the next day.

Glory in the taxi service to ballet and baseball and soccer and violin, to friend's houses and back again, to tournaments and costume fittings and drama club meeting and youth group and art class, and being thankful for the voices that fill the silence.  And then being thankful for the silence. ;)

Glory in the simple and the mundane, the boring, the day-to-day. the unromantic.

We were all made to do one thing, from the beginning of time: to glorify God.

Persevere, friends. Sometimes the most worthwhile things come out of the hardest places in life. grant to those who mourn in Zion--
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, 
the oil of gladness instead of mourning, 
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
 that they may be called oaks of righteousness, 
the planting of the Lord, 
that he may be glorified.
{isaiah 61:3}

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